Hospitals Waiting for Supplies of Life Saving Cancer Drug to Arrive

8 year old Ian Lemus loves to read.

He's feeling better because of the cancer drug Methotrexate. Last March he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

The drug made his hair fall out--but it's kept him alive and is near the end of his treatments.

His mom Linda was made aware of the shortage last week.

"It would be a nightmare for a parent who is just now starting this to deal with,” Linda said “In addition to everything else that is going on in your life, so now your child has cancer and oh, by the way, we don't have the drug to cure your child. It's just unimaginable"

Methotrexate is in short supply after one of the nation's largest suppliers shut down operations because of production problems and quality concerns.

Dr. Patrick Leavey is a pediatric oncologist-hematologist at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas and associate of pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Dr. Leavey said treatment schedules had been adjusted but stressed that no patient had gone without the drug--but the shortage is potentially dangerous.

When asked if lives would be in jeopardy without the drug Dr. Leavey gave a one word answer.


Methotrexate is primarily used to treat children with leukemia and bone cancers.

The Food and Drug Administration is working with two manufacturers that plan more releases by the end of the month.

Dr. Leavey said the plan had better work because current supplies may not last beyond February.

"No,” Dr. Leavey said. “No, there are--the impact of this--if the response at the national level is not successful the impact of this is very serious."

Ian has faith that everything will be just fine.

"I'm not exactly that concerned because I know that somehow, someway, the doctors will come through,” Ian said. “If they don't make it they'll find another way to go through it because I just have my faith in the doctors right now."

Ian’s mom Linda hopes this page turning drama has a happy ending.

"It's absolutely heart wrenching that this is happening," Linda said.


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